I bought some Christmas decorations in a ‘preview’ Black Friday sale. Most of the baubles were smashed, and I am still waiting on one part of the package that they said has been delivered. They are refusing to take the goods back or offer a refund. Can you help?

It is important that you reach out to the courier to check that all the items the retailer claims have been delivered have been. If the courier claims that they have, but there is no sign of them, it could be that your delivery has been tampered with.

You should check the packages that you have received to see if there are any ripped seals on the boxes and note whether the boxes were open at the point of delivery. Boxes that have been opened or appear damaged can be refused at the point of delivery.

If you accepted the items despite signs of damage, even if the terms and conditions or the presence of a signature state that this confirms receipt in good condition, you still have rights.

In future, you can avoid the possibility of any disputes over responsibility for damage by marking ‘received but not inspected’ when signing for or receiving delivery of items.

So, what should I do?

You should gather evidence of the damage such as photographs of the broken items, and contact the seller again, either by email with read receipt, or in writing by signed-for mail to complain.

If in their response, the retailer claims that you made the damage after the delivery was received, then you can contest this with them. The burden of proof lies with them for the first six months after you took the delivery of the goods. If this is the case, then they must prove that the damage was your fault. 

Goods that are damaged in transit mean that a faulty goods claim can be made with the retailer. In this instance, consumer rights law states that you should receive a repair, replacement, or a refund.

Costs related to the return of faulty / damaged goods

The seller may request that you return damaged or faulty goods. In this instance, the cost of postage should not be your responsibility.

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 ensures that sellers pay for the return of faulty or damaged goods and means that you should be reimbursed for these costs.

If you are asked to return the goods, you should enquire with the retailer to ensure that they will be insured against further damage that may occur in transit. If they are not willing to do this, you should check if they will cover the cost of this insurance if you purchase it yourself.

Stolen Items

The situation is the same when deliveries are stolen as when they do not show up. A complaint should be made to the retailer, as your contract is with them.

If you provided the retailer with instructions about leaving items in a specific place, or requested delivery to a neighbour in your absence, then it may be more difficult to seek recourse in these circumstances.

If you believe that items have been stolen, you should report this to the police, providing as much evidence as possible, as this is theft – which is a crime. Reporting this could help when stating your case for a refund from the retailer.

I need additional help!, Scotland’s national consumer advice service are available on 0808 164 6000, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm for further information and support. Our Knowledge Centre also has information and advice on a range of consumer-related meters!

Read more about Black Friday / Cyber Monday sales, and avoiding counterfeit cosmetics and dangerous electronics in our articles here.